Monday, May 16, 2005

Pentecost Concert

Our choir presented a wonderful "Choral Evensong on Pentecost" yesterday afternoon at 4 p.m. It was a time to show off our "new choir" (specifically for the Lytham Rd. campus) and our newly refurbished pipe organ. Interspersed with brief messages from the pastor and scripture reading, we had choral numbers, brass ensemble pieces, two hymns with the congregation, and several organ solos.

Pastor Paul made the most stunning remark I've ever heard at a church concert. He told us we had work to do--that listening was the work of the audience. I wish that message could have come before the wonderful organ/brass Prelude (Praise the Lord, Sigfrid Karg-Elert). A woman behind me was reading the program aloud and commenting to her guest--who probably could have read it herself, and the woman beside me was chatting with her companions. The louder the brass, the louder they talked. As a former trombone player, I wanted to hear the Prelude!

Paul also gave us a bit of history about the organ that I didn't know. The church is 49 years old. A member gave a $50,000 gift in 1970 to purchase the organ, and Paul estimated the same instrument would be $500,000 today. But in 1983 the size of the sanctuary was doubled (holds about 750), and there was not enough space to enlarge the pipes to really fill the church with the sound needed for some pieces. In January the pipes of the organ were dismantled and taken out for repairs and cleaning (we used the piano), and when it was reinstalled, there were some ranges included that are digital since there is no room for additional pipes. A few years ago another member in her will left $250,000 to the church just for the music program, and $80,000 of that when to repair and refurbish the organ. (I didn't have a pencil with me to take notes, so I might have a few details incorrect.)

And another thing I loved. The women of the choir wore white shirts and black skirts or slacks and the men wore dark suits with white shirts and ties. There were times in the past when I'd have to shut my eyes to the cacophony of colors and clothing styles during concerts. Our new director must be from the old school who thinks sight and sound need to be in relationship, not fighting each other.

1 comment:

Susan said...

Sounds like a wonderful concert! (Well except for the talkers...) I'm glad your pastor took such a bold step. It seems people think that any music that isn't P&W means it is background music. It must be so nice to have a real pipe organ. I grew up in a church with a pipe organ and miss it. I'm just grateful that we have an organ and someone who plays it!

It is nice when the musicians dress in a non distracting manner. It seems that even symphony orchestra personnel try to see who could get away with wearing the most glitzy outfits...sparkles, sequins...

Speaking of clothing and Pentecost. Our entire congregation was encouraged to wear red and we all did. It was amazing! (Since we're in Michigan, some chose to wear Detroit Red Wings apparel, but red nonetheless!)